Drama Sheet on Oedipus the King by Sophocles
*Priest of Zeus
Thebes. The scene is before the Palace of Oedipus. Suppliants of all ages are seated round the altar at the palace doors, at their head a Priest of Zeus. To them enters Oedipus.
Creon enters the scene during the talk between Oedipus and Priest of Zeus.
Oedipus and Creon exeunt.
After them Priest and suppliants also exeunt.
The scene is the same. Enters Oedipus.
The words of Oedipus and the chorus are combined. Teiresias appears on the stage.
Chorus is silent for some time, it starts singing a bit later.
Oedipus and Teiresias exeunt the scene. It is time for the chorus to speak to the readers.
Then, Creon joins its speech. Oedipus enters the scene. He has a talk with Oedipus.
Jocasta appears and joins the conversation between Creon and Oedipus.
For some time Oedipus talks to the chorus. Then, Creon exeunt. After a conversation, Oedipus and Jocasta also leave the scene.
Jocasta returns and pronounces a speech.
Enters Corinthian Messenger. He asks Jocasta where the palace is. However, he is near it as the scene is still the same. The Messenger says that Polybus is dead.
Oedipus appears from the palace and talks to his wife.
Messenger shares the same information with Oedipus. Jocasta exits. Oedipus and the chorus are on the scene.
Herdsman appears before the palace. There is a conversation between messenger, Oedipus, and Herdsman.
Oedipus exits and it is time for the chorus.
The second Messenger enters the scene. He announces that the queen Jocasta is dead.
Oedipus returns and learns the news.
Enters Creon. The last words are uttered by a chorus.
A) There are five major themes that are discussed in Oedipus the King. They are the following ones:
1) Power. As a rule, power blinds people. The same situation occurs to the characters of Oedipus the King. He is afraid of everything and everyone who may pretend to deprive him of the power of a king. This person is suspicious and selfish. Oedipus never listens to other people’s pieces of advice because he is sure that all of them are liars and want to get his power. So, the king seems to ignore everyone from his environment, because of the power he has.
2) Determination. This trait is the major one that belongs to Oedipus and his mother. The king is purposeful and likes to achieve all his goals. The same may be said about his wife, Jocasta.
3) Wisdom and Knowledge. The protagonist of the playwright is in constant search of truth and knowledge. For instance, he is determined to learn everything about Laius’s murder. The same can be said about his own identity. It turns out that sometimes it is better not to know something. Thus, the king learns about his destiny and regrets this.
4) Memory and the Past. The past influences the characters of Oedipus the King. The protagonist gets too far into his past and this makes him too suspicious. It makes him think that everyone is able to betray him because of power.
5) Fate and Free Will. It is a central theme of the playwright. There is a connection between fate and individual action. Sophocles tries to demonstrate that all his characters are not responsible for their own actions because of fate. The characters depicted in Oedipus the King are not able to change fate. In fact, they are its victims.
B) Oedipus is the major character of the play and he makes it unique by numerous debates around him.
Critics still do not know what has led the king to his own downfall. The topicality of this issue makes the readers pay attention to the king’s personality. However, there are several possible reasons for Oedipus’s downfall. They are the following: 1) determination, 2) anger and 3) hubris. In the process of reading the play, every person may choose the best reason to form his/her perspective. No exact explanation of the king’s downfall makes this character interesting for the audience. Moreover, the character of Oedipus contributes to the originality of the playwright. The key scene of the playwright is the one when the first messenger comes. He declares Polybus’s death. This means a lot for both Jocasta and Oedipus. The first character is sure that the king would not murder her father because of power. The second one gets an opportunity to come and rule instead of Polybus. This scene proves the point of view that the whole world is ruled by chance. It is practically impossible to foresee something and become the master of one’s own fate.
The following quotation demonstrates the major idea of Oedipus the King and illuminates the playwright:
Well, it will come what will, though I will be mute.
Since come it must, thy duty is to tell me.
I have no more to say; storm as thou wilt,
And give the rein to all thy pent-up rage” (341-347)
So, it is not up to a human being to rule his/her own fate.
Sophocles. Oedipus the King. London: The University of Chicago Press, 2010. Print.